Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Don't trust tuned vocals

Loretta Lynn once said that when you start to believe your own press, you are a fool (or something to that effect. It was a while ago I heard it.) I'd like to use that analogy to make a point about another flattering hype-spinner... tuned vocals.

Tuned vocals are a double edged sword. They are sweet music to the listening ear when the untuned version would irritate, distract or hurt. They are sweet liars to the performer. When we start to believe we really sang the vocal that way, we are fools... fooled into complacency... and a playback of a recording of our next live gig may surprise us in unflattering ways.

Here is what I strongly advise those singing in the studio.
  • Circumvent the issue: Sing as in-tune as possible so there is as little need for tuning as possible.
  • Have a discussion with your producer and/or engineer: Ask how they envision having your vocals tuned in a way that sounds natural within your genre (read: instead of overtuning!!) There is no reason to lose a 'heart moment' in a vocal if it could just be goosed slightly one way or another with a tuner to pitch correct it. But there is also the danger of losing the 'heart moment' if the vocal is overtuned and sounds too mechanical or unhumanly perfect. The odds are that your producer is of a similar mind, but letting your preference for more "insightful" use of vocal tuners be known can make a difference.
  • Have the guts to hear your untuned vocal. Know what you really did.
  • Train your voice to be able to sing in live performance as well as your tuned vocal! Otherwise, trusting that you really sing that way can cause you some major embarrassment.
Like all tools, tuning used wisely can greatly enhance the impact of your vocals. Unwisely trusted, tuning can give you a false sense of security. Let the tuned singer beware! 

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3 Comments :

  • At March 6, 2011 at 4:52 AM , Anonymous Arne Benoni said...

    Great comments Judy, I absolutely agree with you!

    ARNE

     
  • At March 6, 2011 at 4:54 AM , Anonymous PJ Steelman said...

    Judy, how right you are. For artists like myself who can't afford to haul the pitch correction equipment out to the shows, it is really a whole lot better to try for the "live" sound on the CD's. At least that way I don't get comments like...You sounded a whole lot better on your CD. LOL

     
  • At March 6, 2011 at 4:56 AM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Thx for the feedback Arne and PJ! Seems everyone is agreeing with you and me. Hopefully the message will trickle up to those still over-enamored with this technology.

     

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